How to Refresh Your Home (and Restore Your Sanity) After the Holidays

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The holidays are a time for family, friends, and merry-making, but with all the rush and bustle, the errands and get-togethers, merriment isn’t the only mind state the season produces. It can also be just a little bit maddening. The weather outside is frightful, and maybe the kids are starting to get stir-crazy. Clutter abounds from all the new Christmas presents. Your refrigerator is stuffed as full as a turkey with leftovers, and there is an honest-to-god tree in your living room.

As December draws to a close with just one last shindig to ring in the New Year, you’re probably ready to restore some order to your home, your life, and your sanity. All of which may seem a bit overwhelming, if you don’t even know where to begin. But fear not! We have compiled a post-holiday checklist to help you re-establish normalcy in your home, so you can get back to enjoying time with your family through the cozy winter months ahead.

  • Pack away (and sort) ornaments. Tackle the decorations on the Christmas tree first. Check the ornaments individually to make sure they are not broken (if they are, toss them!) and if you still want to keep them around for future years of holiday enjoyment (if not, donate them!) Make sure that you wrap or coil your tree lights and bead strings neatly, so you won’t have to deal with an impossible tangled mess next year. Once the tree is denuded, remove and pack away any other holiday ornaments from around the house like Christmas villages, outside lights, and lawn ornaments. Label the boxes clearly and store them where you will be able to find them easily next holiday season.

  • Get the tree out of your house. Christmas trees are lovely to look at, if a bit of an odd tradition. (Seriously, whose idea was it to bring a tree inside the house in the middle of winter, cover it with fire, and stare at it?) But now is the time to restore your home to its normal tree-free state. Pack away your artificial tree carefully and store the box upright. If you have a genuine tree, call your local waste management department to find out the details of their tree disposal program. Or if you have the space outside, you can always put it out in a corner of the yard as a refuge for ground nesting birds.

  • Wrapping paper, bows, and ribbons. If the floor around your Christmas tree is still cluttered with wrapping, clear it away. But save the ribbons and bows for next year!  Once that’s done, your living room floor should be clear enough to vacuum up the pine needles and cookie crumbs.

  • Find homes for gifts. The easiest way to keep a well-organized home is to have a place for everything. Since every member of the family receives a new influx of things at Christmas, it only makes sense to spend some time figuring out where those things are going to live. If you have limited space or a minimalist spirit, you might want to adhere to the “one in, one out” rule: each time you (or a family member) receive a new item, donate one of your older possessions to make space for it.

  • Clean and Pack Away Holiday Attire. Many of us have clothing that only gets used during the holiday seasion. Whether it’s a beautiful party dress or a Santa suit, you’ll want to get these items washed (or dry cleaned) and packed away securely for next year.

  • Finish up the leftovers. Designate one day within the week after festivities as “Leftover Day”. On that day, commit to not cooking anything. If anyone wants to eat, they must heat up Christmas leftovers (and wash the dishes as they go.) This will clear up refrigerator space and ensure that those delicious holiday foods don’t go forgotten and spoil.

  • Deep clean kitchen and bathrooms. These are the rooms that receive the most abuse during the holiday season, especially with guests popping in all month. Devote some time in the first week of the New Year to really making your kitchen and bathrooms sparkle. In the kitchen, clean the inside of the oven, polish the appliance fronts, fixtures, and backsplash, sweep out underneath the toaster oven, and scrub the floor. In addition to your regular bathroom cleaning routine, wash the rugs, dust the toiletry and hair product bottles, and clean the mirror and light switch plates. Dust the baseboards and light fixtures in both rooms, and then sit back and relax. Sanity restored!

P.S. We totally understand if you don’t want to fool around with that deep cleaning part. If you live in the Asheville, NC area and want someone else to take care of that part, our expert post-holiday cleaning elves would be delighted to help. Drop us a line or give us a call at 828.505.7320

Give the Gift of a Clean, Green Christmas!

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You might feel it’s a little early to begin planning meals and get-togethers for Christmas or Hanukkah, what with the turkey and cranberry sauce still taking up fridge space from Thanksgiving, but don’t get too complacent! The winter holidays will be here before you know it.

There will be tons of preparations to attend to, and we all know that December doesn’t care if you still have a job to go to and normal, everyday errands to perform, and biological necessities to take care of, like sleeping. December expects you to pack three months worth of stuff into the first three weeks of the month. Then, after barely one or two days of rest and quality time with the family, December expects you to spend the fourth week of the month cleaning, just to return your home to some semblance of normalcy.

But at least you can give your special someone a bit of relief from the stress and overwhelm of the holiday season with a gift certificate to Green Home Cleaning. Let them warm up by the fire and put their feet up! We’ll take care of sprucing up the house before relatives start pouring in, or giving it a good clean-up afterwards. We’ll make their home sparkle with our green, sustainable cleaning solutions, all without them (or you) lifting a finger.

You’ll be giving the gift that everyone needs—MORE TIME. And you’ll be giving yourself the same gift, because you won’t have to go out driving on icy roads, fight through the crowds at the mall, or stand in a long line to get your gift. All you have to do is give us a call at 828.505.7320 or send us a quick message {LINK}, and we’ll get you all set up. You can even get several names crossed off your list with a single call or email. That’ll free up some time to meet December’s never-ending list of demands, and just maybe, you’ll be able to sneak in a few hours of holiday cheer.

We wish all of our clients and friends a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Yule, and a clean, green, wonderful holiday season!

 

 

 

8 Green Ways to Recycle Halloween Pumpkins!

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After the Halloween parties are over and the trick-or-treating is done, what can you do with those spooky jack-o’lanterns, besides throwing them in the trash? Here are a few ideas to extend the life of your Halloween pumpkins.

  1. Make a pumpkin planter.  Pack some potting soil into the top of your jack-o’lantern and plant autumn-blooming annuals inside. They’ll last about a month, keeping the Halloween spirit alive until Thanksgiving! Be sure to place your pumpkin planters directly on the ground and not on your porch, because as the pumpkin rots, it can leave stains underneath.

  2. Build a biodegradable bird feeder. Just pour some birdseed into your leftover pumpkin and place it somewhere in the yard where you can view it from a window in the house. It will attract birds and other wildlife, giving you and your family lots of opportunity for observing nature from the comfort of your own living room.

  3. Make a therapeutic facial mask. Use this method for pumpkins that haven’t been carved. Scoop out and puree the pulp, then mix it with a few other ingredients to make a pumpkin spa treatment that’s high in nutrients your skin craves! Here are some recipes.

  4. Eat it. Another idea for pumpkins that haven’t been carved! Halloween pumpkins are not the same as pie pumpkins, but they are still edible. There are tons of fun pumpkin recipes to try, like pumpkin bread, pumpkin candy, and pumpkin soup. Even those tiny decorative pumpkins can be made into baked pumpkin pots, which will go over great at Thanksgiving dinner!

  5. Leave it for the deer. If you have deer or wild turkeys in your neighborhood, they would love to eat your leftover pumpkins! Set the pumpkins outside in an edge environment (a place where the woods border a field or meadow) to give these wild animals the best shot at finding them.

  6. Feed it to farm animals. Pigs, in particular, are very fond of pumpkins. If there is a pastured pig farm or potbelly pig rescue in your area, call and offer to donate your pumpkins to them! Chances are, both the farmer and the pigs will be delighted to take them off your hands.

  7. Pickle it. Pickled pumpkin rinds are a thing, and they’re delicious! Check out this recipe.

  8. Preserve it! If one of your family members carved a particularly spooky or funny jack-o’lantern this Halloween, why not keep it around for years to come? Just coat the inside and outside of the pumpkin with clear PVC glue. This will preserve your jack-o’lantern, and will make a great vase or candy jar that can be used next Halloween, too!

 

A Valentine's Day Cleaning Guide for Dudes

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So you’re a dude, and you’ve got a special someone coming over for Valentine’s Day dinner.

But, let’s face it—you’re a bachelor and your home is a bachelor pad. Your idea of cleaning is moving the empty pizza box from the floor to the lid of the trashcan. So how do you make sure your date won’t flee your apartment before cocktails? Here’s a handy home cleaning guide, paying special attention to areas that dudes often forget about.

  1. Odors. The thing about residential odors is that they are usually only perceptible to guests. This isn’t only true for dudes; it’s just a fact of life. We get accustomed to the smell of our homes to the point where we block it out, and it takes leaving for a week’s vacation and coming back to really notice there’s something off. So here’s what you do: the day before you have your lady friend over for dinner, ask a friend or neighbor to come over and do a sniff test for you. If you don’t have time for that, it’s okay. You can mask any stealthy odors, but whatever you do, DON’T use Lysol or any other chemical-heavy room spray. They actually don’t smell that great, and many people experience allergic reactions to them. Instead, throw some orange peels and cinnamon sticks in a pot with a little water, and set it to simmer for an hour or two before your date arrives. That will make your whole house smell amazing.
  2. Living Room. The main thing you’re going to want to do in the living room is pick up any clutter off the floor and furniture. Your sneakers, your gym bag, your stack of poker chips—put them in a closet. Empty beer cans and used paper plates, obviously, go in the trash, and don’t forget to take the trash out before your date comes over! Once the room is tidied up, sweep the floor or run the vacuum cleaner and clean any glass tabletops of all stains and smudges. It wouldn’t hurt to run a dust cloth over the TV screen, either.
  3. Kitchen. I’ve met a lot of bachelors who don’t have plates, silverware, or basic cooking stuff. If this is you—and I’m not saying it is—the first thing I want to know is what possessed you to invite your date over to your place for dinner? But, never mind, there’s no time for answering questions. Thrift shops often have good deals on gently used kitchen and dining accouterments. Once you’ve got all the necessary items, give your kitchen a once-over to ensure it won’t offend your date. The most important things are to make sure that the countertops, floor, and appliance surfaces are clean. If you have a bit of time after that’s done, give your sink and faucet a polish with a wet cloth. And finally, make sure there’s no rotting food in the fridge, just in case she opens it.
  4. Bathroom. Dirty towels into the hamper. Clean the toilet bowl (here’s an article on getting out hard water stains, if you need it). Arrange your toothpaste, deodorant, shaving cream, etc. neatly on the counter, or better yet, put them in a drawer. And most importantly, clean all of the beard trimmings out of your sink and off of your mirror.
  5. Bedroom. There’s certainly no guarantee that your date will set foot in your bedroom, but giving it a quick cleaning might help the chances that if she does enter, she’ll stick around for awhile. First, you’ll need to wash your comforter and linens. It doesn’t matter if they look clean—if you haven’t washed them in a while, they’re not clean and she’ll be able to tell. Then make the bed neatly. Clear any clutter off the dresser and bedside table, and remove any piles of dirty clothes from the floor. Vacuum the carpet, dust the blinds, and replace any dead light bulbs.

That’s it! By following the tips in this guide, you can be confident that your bachelor pad will not only not turn off your date, but that it might actually leave a good impression! Happy Valentine’s Day, dudes!

Christmas as a Kid Versus Christmas as an Adult

The Joy of Christmas Morning

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As a child, you woke up on Christmas morning with an unmatched feeling of anticipation. Christmas was the highlight of your year. You jumped out of bed at 5 a.m. and rushed to the living room to see what new riches awaited you under the tree. You knew you weren't supposed to start opening presents until Mom and Dad were up, so you went to their bedroom and leapt on top of their sleeping bodies until they got up. (You were blissfully unaware of the fact that they'd stayed up until 2 in the morning on Santa Duty.) You tried to wait patiently while Dad made coffee and Mom made sure there was a roll of film in the camera, but your heart was pounding with holiday adrenaline. Finally, when both parents had appeared in the living room in their bathrobes and with bags under their eyes, you tore into the beautifully wrapped presents. Fifteen minutes later, it was done. You took your new bike outside or set up your new game console and spent the rest of the day in happy play, never noticing the noise of the vacuum or the flurry of activity in the kitchen as your parents prepared for the dinner guests.

Now, as an adult, chances are you're the one being dragged out of bed on Christmas morning with only three hours of sleep under your belt. You've spent the last month trying to find the perfect gifts for your kids, and then another several hours wrapping them on Christmas Eve, and now you get to watch the joy on your kids' faces as they destroy the living room in record time. You're the one who gets to spend the rest of Christmas morning picking up gift wrap, basting turkey, and cleaning the kitchen in preparation for the stream of relatives who will soon be arriving. If everything's going smoothly, you might get a chance to watch your kids play with their new gifts for five minutes. Enjoy it while it lasts, because by tomorrow afternoon, they'll be complaining of boredom.

Holiday Snacking

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When you were a kid, the holiday season was a month long cookie and candy fest, punctuated by pie. Your stomach was a bottomless pit for gingerbread and candy canes, and you had no problem filling the leftover space with turkey and gravy and mashed potatoes and stuffing.

Now, you're an adult. It's Christmas Eve and you're at a party. You have eaten one small plate of hors d'oeuvres and the tiniest possible sliver of pumpkin pie, and you were just about to participate in the champagne toast, when all of a sudden the heartburn waylays you. Uggh. And you feel bloated. When you catch a glimpse of yourself in the hall mirror, you realize that you look bloated, too. Blast it all! Why is it that every holiday season, the very air around you fills up with tasty, delicious, fatty, indigestion causing, DELICIOUS edible treats? It takes you until October to work off the extra holiday pounds, just in time for another holiday season to begin.

Dreaming of a White Christmas

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As a kid, Christmas was already the second most special day of the year, ranked just slightly below your birthday but safely above Halloween and the first day of summer vacation. But there was one thing that could make Christmas even more special, and that was if it snowed. Not just a flurry or a dusting, but a good, intense, overnight snow dump. If you woke up on Christmas morning and there was a foot or more of snow on the ground, it was like having Christmas and your birthday rolled into one. Think of all the hills you could sled! The snow forts you could build with your friends! The snow balls you could hurl at your younger siblings! Holiday snow is the stuff childhood memories are made of.

Now that you're all grown up, snow is still a pretty sight to see, but a white Christmas probably brings up more feelings of stress than opportunities for fun. Take some pictures of that pristine, picturesque snowfall, because by the end of the day it's going to be a maze of muddy footprints, and most of the actual snow will have been transferred inside your house, melted, and formed a small pond in your hallway. But that's not all! Tomorrow, you get to shovel it! And hopefully the road crews have done their job so that when you return to work in two days, you won't end up with your car in a snowy Christmas ditch on the side of the road.

The Perfect Holiday Gift for Mom

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One of the truly magical things about being a kid is that you can give people any kind of gift at all, and they will love it, treasure it forever, praise you for it, and possibly frame it. When you were a kid, you could make Mom a picture out of dried food items glued to a piece of paper, and tears of joy would appear at the corner of her eye. And you know what? YOUR MOM STILL HAS THAT MACARONI PICTURE, tucked away in a drawer somewhere along with your first report card and a pair of your baby socks.

If you're a mom now, you're familiar with the tender, loving feelings that arise when your little ones give you homemade gifts. And you're also completely aware of the paradoxical fact that no adult in your life, be they your husband, your sister, or your best friend, can get away with giving you a macaroni picture for Christmas. It's a lot harder to give thoughtful gifts as a grown up. There's a lot more room for error. But there's at least one gift for the moms in your life that you can't go wrong with--it has MAGICAL MACARONI ART powers. And that's a gift certificate from Green Home Cleaning. She deserves it, after all that cleaning, shopping, cooking, snow shoveling, and mysterious holiday weight gain she's put up with over the past two months.

You can snap up a holiday gift certificate for the mom of your choice by dropping us a line, or by calling us at 828.505.7320. (And if you are the mom of your choice, feel free to share this blog post with your husband/sister/best friend.)